Malaysia U23 3-0 Thailand Selection: Young Tigers maintain winning streak
Ong Kim Swee’s Young Tigers convincingly saw off the Thailand Selection 3-0 with strikes from Nasir Basharuddin and a Rozaimi Rahman double
By Sadat Osman
Malaysia Under-23 completed their hatrick of wins in the Merdeka Tournament group stage as they stomped out the Thailand Selection 3-0 at the Darul Makmur Stadium on Wednesday night.
Nasir Basharuddin opened the scoring in the 12th minute and it was followed by a Rozaimi Rahman brace, with a goal in either half.
Ong Kim Swee, as promised, started without his key players Junior Eldstal, Wan Zack Haikal and Nik Shahrul – seeing that they didn’t need a win to go through into the final.
Thailand on the other hand, fielded their best available XI in order to ensure that they come away with at least a point.
Despite already securing a spot in the final, the Young Tigers were in no mood to sit back and settle for a draw – Threejagsang’s men were no different.
For the first 10 minutes, either side tried very hard to build an attack upfront but they were either broken down or caught offside. Nonetheless, Thailand had majority of the possession.
It didn’t take long for the home side to break the deadlock after Thailand were guilty of poor defending. In the 12th minute, Rozaimi Rahman’s corner was only cleared as far as Nasir who took it first time to send it to the back of the net.
Three minutes later, the visitors almost brought things level when Chayawat Srinawong met Pakorn Parmpak’s low cross from the left. Fortunately for Malaysia, Fadhil Shas was on hand to block out the shot that looked destined for the back of the net.
Thailand then pressed on to eke out the elusive equaliser but Malaysia held them out really well even without Nik Shahrul enforcing the backline.
The game went on with end to end action but not without controversy. In the 21st minute, a howler from the Thai goalkeeper, Abeefaesan Ya, forced him to pull down Nazirul Naim in the box but to the dismay of the home side, no penalty was given.
With the Thai players pressing high for a goal, Malaysia doubled their lead on the counter with S. Sivanesan breaking free on the right flank. On the 28-minute mark, he spotted Rozaimi in the middle totally unmarked and played it to the striker to slot home with only the keeper to beat.
The Thai team remained tenacious despite going two goals down and conjured up a great play in the 39th minute. Playing the one-two in the Malaysia penalty area, Kasidech Wattayawong found Pakorn in the middle, who then took a shot first time but was denied by a dogged Fadhli Shas throwing his body on the line.
Thailand held on to the score line with Malaysia leading 2-0 at the break.
Going in to the second period, head coach Ong decided to bring on Nik to replace Fadhli Shas. The 39th minute encounter could have hurt him.
The Young Tigers went out with all guns ablaze off the bat with Rozaimi close to scoring on two occasions in the opening three minutes of the second half. His second chance was the closer of the two but his toe-poke lacked power to beat the outstretched Abeefaesan.
Thailand took a little too long to ease into the second 45 minutes but Malaysia kept going for more goals.
Sivanesan had a glorious chance to score when he latched on to a loose ball at the edge of the area in the 58th minute but his rash volley was struck too hard, sending it into the stands.
Kasidech and Chayawat had a very quiet second half as Malaysia maintained optimum organisation at the back. Izham Tarmizi bolstered the backline with what was a confident performance in between the posts.
With 20 minutes to go, it should have been two or three more goals in the favour of the Young Tigers if not for woeful finishing by Sivanesan and Rohaimi.
Ten minutes from time, Rozaimi netted his brace after he pulled off a bit of a dribble, beating two defenders just outside the box. With a yard of space to his left, he slammed a rocket of a shot with this left boot leaving Abeefaesan with no chance whatsoever to save the shot.
A toothless Thailand side then resorted to long balls and shots from range in their effort to get back in the game but to no avail.
Malaysia U23 proved a mountain too high for the Thais as the home side concluded the evening with a perfect run in the Merdeka Tournament group stage, successfully downing the visitors 3-0.
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